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145 Members Send Bicameral Response To Trump Administration's Anti-Trans Equal Access Rule Change

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) today joined Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in submitting a public comment letter signed by 145 members of the House and Senate to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson urging him to rescind the proposed rule change to the Equal Access Rule that would allow federally funded emergency and temporary shelter providers to turn away transgender Americans. The letter is signed by 23 Senators and 122 Representatives.

"This vehemently anti-trans proposal is a total departure from the mission of HUD and it will put lives at risk at a time when access to safe housing is absolutely vital. For more than a year now, Secretary Carson has cited no real evidence nor provided any credible justification for this rule change -- this policy is nothing more than a license for shelter providers to discriminate against transgender Americans,” said Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton. “To suggest that there could be a set of physical characteristics for shelter staff to determine whether someone should be housed with men or women is abhorrent. It’s crucial that all Americans participate in public comment and speak out on why this policy is contrary to our values and a danger to the trans community."

"Allowing shelters to turn away transgender people is unacceptable, but doing so during a global pandemic is particularly cruel,” said Senator Brian Schatz. “Federally funded shelters are supposed to be accessible to anyone who needs them. This proposal deliberately endangers the lives and safety of transgender people."

"The Administration’s proposal would severely obstruct the rights of transgender individuals. This rollback is cruel and particularly disturbing during a global health emergency and at a time of great economic hardship for millions of Americans. Sadly, this proposal is on par with other attempts by the Trump Administration to roll back protections for the LGBTQ+ community. The Trump Administration must immediately abandon its plans to proceed with this rule and focus on providing equal and fair housing for all regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation,” said Congressman Frank Pallone.

"Denying transgender people shelter because of this President’s transphobia is dangerous and potentially deadly. From housing to health care to education to immigration to our military, this Administration has proactively sought policies to discriminate against transgender people wherever they live, work or learn. Transgender people of all ages will become homeless with no place to go if this bigoted, hateful rule is implemented,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III.

The rule change, published on July 24, initiated a public comment period that will last for 60 days. The proposed rule has already come under fire for instructing federally funded shelters to judge a person’s physical characteristics in determining whether they should be housed with men or women.

Transgender Americans have disproportionately suffered from the hardships of homelessness and are more likely to face discrimination when seeking emergency shelter. Nearly one-third of transgender individuals experience homelessness at one point in their lives and 70% report mistreatment in shelters due to their gender identity. Only 50% of the LGBTQ population lives in states prohibiting housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Removing the protections included under the Equal Access Rule would make transgender individuals vulnerable to being left out on the streets in the middle of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis.

In addition to Senator Schatz, the letter is cosigned by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The letter is also cosigned by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (D-NC), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Karen Bass (D-CA), Ami Bera (D-CA), Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Earl Blumeneaur (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Cheri Bustos (D-IL), André Carson (D-IN), Ed Case (D-HI), Sean Casten (D-IL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Judy Chu (D-CA), David N. Cicilline (D-RI), Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (D-CA), Katherine M. Clark (D-MA), Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Jim Costa (D-CA), Joe Courtney (D-CT), TJ Cox (D-CA), Angie Craig (D-MN), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Jason Crow (D-CO), Sharice L. Davids (D-KS), Danny Davis (D-IL), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Suzan K. DelBene (D-WA), Val B. Demings (D-FL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Theodore E. Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Bill Foster (D-IL), Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), Sylvia R. Garcia (D-TX), Al Green (D-TX), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Deb Haaland (D-NM), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Denny Heck (D-WA), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Ro Khanna (D-CA),  Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), James R. Langevin (D-RI), John B. Larson (D-CT), Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Al Lawson (D-FL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), A. Donald McEachin (D-VA), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Gregory W. Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen S. Moore (D-WI), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Scott H. Peters (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Jamie Raskin (D-MD) Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Max Rose (D-NY), Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Adam Smith (D-WA), Darren Soto (D-FL), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Dina Titus (D-NV), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Norma J. Torres (D-CA), Lori Trahan (D-MA), David Trone (D-MD), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Susan Wild (D-PA), and John Yarmuth (D-KY). 

The full text of the letter can be found here.

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